XR - Extinction Aversion - Craig Murray

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Fri Apr 26 00:02:49 BST 2019



Apr, 2019  in 

Man made climate change has appeared to me for 
three decades to be sufficiently proven, and it 
has that cardinal virtue of a scientific 
hypothesis, you can see the things which it 
predicts will happen, come to pass before your 
eyes, like being uncomfortably hot in your Edinburgh flat on Easter Monday.

Direct action of the illegal kind is a very 
important weapon in the arsenal of protest. It 
represents a challenge to the state’s monopoly of 
force. While it may appear non-violent, in fact 
by imposing your body into a space and blocking 
it off, that is an assertion of physical force. 
What the Extinction Rebellion protests showed 
this week was the reticence of the Metropolitan 
Police in dealing with nice, middle class and 
largely white protestors. That reticence is to be 
welcomed; the fact that it is not extended to 
other groups is what is to be deplored. The 
alternative is to argue for everyone to get 
beaten up by Plod equally, which is not a sensible line to take.

I broadly support the Extinction Rebellion 
protest. In terms of gatecrashing climate change 
on to the political agenda, they have had a good 
and entirely necessary effect. Their use of what 
was in effect force, certainly did some harm in 
restricting the movement of people around London, 
and in some cases will have impacted the ability 
of struggling people to earn their living. It 
also disrupted public transport systems which are 
a good thing. But these are minor items if you 
accept that climate change is whirling its way to 
becoming an existential threat – and that is a 
premise which I do accept. The disruption is 
outweighed by the intent to do a much greater 
good, in terms of the justification of the people 
doing the protesting. Whether it succeeds in 
prompting real action by government and achieving 
a balance of good, is a different question. I 
fear we have to get rid of the Tories first.

I accept that climate change is a worldwide 
phenomenon and action in individual states of 
limited utility. But individual states can 
inspire by example, not least by showing that a 
switch to a greener economy can lead to a major 
stimulation of economic growth. I do not pretend 
to expertise in green economics. What follows are 
rather some homely policy nostrums which I 
believe should form a part of a coherent approach to green policy.

1) Home Insulation

The Tory Government has effectively abandoned and 
cancelled home insulation schemes; in effect 
nothing whatsoever is happening. Yet the 
government’s own plan to reach committed 
emissions targets by 2050 explicitly depends on 
one third of all savings being achieved by 
insulation in Britain’s existing stock of over 20 
million very poorly insulated homes.

There is the clearest case here for government 
action. The aim should be to upgrade 4 million 
homes a year. Full funding should be provided to 
local authorities and housing associations for 
their stock. Householders should face a legal 
obligation to bring home insulation up to high 
defined standards – with generous means-tested 
grants available from central government funds, 
which should meet 100% of the cost for all those 
in straitened circumstances, and a decreasing 
percentage thereafter based on income and wealth. 
Private landlords should be forced to comply and 
self-fund up to the value of four months’ rent, 
with grants available for higher costs. Failure 
to comply should lead to the landlords’ property 
being confiscated by the local council, with tenancies protected.

Those are the broad outlines of a policy which 
would provide massive employment and contribute 
to a major Keynesian boost for an economy 
crippled by years of austerity, as well as make a 
major difference to emissions.

2) Ocean Energy

Wind energy has made massive strides, and to a 
lesser extent solar and hydro. But 
disappointingly little has been done to harness 
the restless energy of the seas. Government 
support for research programmes into utilising 
wave and current energy is pitifully small, given 
the potentially vast and reliable energy resource 
available, to the UK in particular.

On tidal energy, those objecting to the Severn or 
Wash barrage schemes on the grounds of effect on 
wildlife habitat are failing spectacularly to see 
the wood for the trees. Of course biodiversity is 
massively important, but we are fighting a battle 
in which some resources will need to be 
sacrificed. The Severn, Wash and Swansea Bay 
schemes do not require substantial technological 
innovation – they are basically just low head 
hydro – and should be pushed ahead as urgent 
projects. Simultaneously major research funding 
should be given to innovation. I suspect the 
harnessing of currents rather than waves would be the first to fruition.

3) Aviation Fuel Tax

Cheap flights are the opiate of the people. I 
cannot buy in to the argument that aviation fuel 
tax is only viable if everybody does it. Planes 
landing can very easily be taxed on any fuel they 
have in their fuel tanks brought in from third 
countries. If hub passengers transiting are 
reduced in favour of fuel tax free destinations, 
I cannot see that as a bad thing. An aviation hub 
is a particularly undesirable thing to become, 
from any sensible environmental view.

Flying is a major contributor to pollution and 
there is far too much of it. The tax free fuel 
status that makes flights cheaper than trains is 
ludicrous. Aviation fuel should be taxed at the 
same levels per calorific value as road fuels.

4) Expand Rail Networks

Nationalisation and re-integration is of course 
the sensible prelude to any development of rail 
transport. The UK is chronically behind most of 
the developed, and even much of the developing, 
world in terms of high speed rail lines. This 
needs to be rectified as does the chronic 
over-concentration of transport resource on South 
East England. HS2 should run on to Aberdeen and 
Inverness, not just be confined to the southern third of the UK.

On a wider note, with demand for rail transport 
buoyant, re-establishment of many Beeching axed 
lines should be undertaken with a view to a 
simple containerised nationwide freight 
distribution system as well as passenger 
transport. Rail is far more energy efficient than 
road. The preponderance of road transport is 
simply the result of perverse incentive from government policy.

Light rail and tram systems should be expanded in 
cities. Here in Edinburgh, the poor planning and 
execution of the start of a tram system should 
not put us off. Trams should be a local service, 
not fast and stopping frequently, but rather akin 
to buses, as in Manchester. They should not be 
confused as in Edinburgh with an express airport 
service, with very few and inaccessible stops.

5) Encourage Micro-Generation: Abolish Nuclear

The UK had an immensely successful programme of 
encouraging domestic solar generation through 
feed in tariffs, so the Tories cut it, as they 
cut the less successful insulation grants. 
Generous feed-in tariffs for domestic generation 
should be rebooted, while technologies such as 
heat pumps and exchangers should be zero rated for VAT (as should bicycles).

By contrast, the massively expensive nuclear 
power projects should be scrapped immediately. I 
lived almost all my adult life under the 
impression nuclear energy involved some 
fiendishly clever technology, until I realised it 
generates from bog standard steam turbines, and 
the nuclear part is simply a ludicrously 
complicated, incredibly expensive and 
devastatingly dangerous way to – boil water.

The real attraction to governments of nuclear 
power is the precise reason governments dislike 
micro-generation – nuclear power promotes a 
massively centralised security state, and links 
in well to weaponisation. It is the most 
expensive electricity of all, and should be immediately closed down.

The above represent my own thoughts on possible 
short term policy responses to climate change. I 
acknowledge quite freely that it is not my area 
of expertise and is perhaps insufficiently 
radical, and certainly insufficiently broad and 
detailed. It has however focused my mind on the 
great economic stimulus that can be gained from 
wholesale pursuit of the necessary technologies at the government level.

I have deliberately concentrated on unilateral 
measures rather than international negotiation, 
because I am sceptical there is sufficient will 
for progress on the latter or that governments 
around the world intend to stick to commitments. 
I have viewed it from a UK not a Scottish 
perspective because action is required 
immediately, and Scotland starts from a much better place anyway.

That I am thinking on this at all is in a way 
evidence that Extinction Rebellion achieved their 
aim from their immediate action, though it is 
those in power they seek to influence, not random 
bloggers. I am very sceptical of their declared 
desire to “negotiate with government”. If David 
Cameron were still in power, he would undoubtedly 
“hug a swampie” and make all kinds of green 
noises, then continue shutting down environmental 
programmes. Those around Theresa May are quite 
clever enough to recommend such an approach, as a 
potential Tory rescuing image as the party 
otherwise crashes to electoral disaster.

I would recommend Extinction Rebellion to keep 
blocking the roads and stay clear of the 
politicians. If they could refine their tactics 
to concentrate more on direct action against the 
big polluters and their financial backers, and 
move away from shocking the public through 
inconvenience, that might be tactically good for 
a while. But on the whole, I applaud. Vigorously.

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'From South America, where payment must be made 
with subtlety, the Bormann organization has made 
a substantial contribution. It has drawn many of 
the brightest Jewish businessmen into a 
participatory role in the development of many of 
its corporations, and many of these Jews share 
their prosperity most generously with Israel. If 
their proposals are sound, they are even provided 
with a specially dispensed venture capital fund. 
I spoke with one Jewish businessmen in Hartford, 
Connecticut. He had arrived there quite unknown 
several years before our conversation, but with 
Bormann money as his leverage. Today he is more 
than a millionaire, a quiet leader in the 
community with a certain share of his profits 
earmarked as always for his venture capital 
benefactors. This has taken place in many other 
instances across America and demonstrates how 
Bormann’s people operate in the contemporary 
commercial world, in contrast to the fanciful 
nonsense with which Nazis are described in so much “literature.”

So much emphasis is placed on select Jewish 
participation in Bormann companies that when 
Adolf Eichmann was seized and taken to Tel Aviv 
to stand trial, it produced a shock wave in the 
Jewish and German communities of Buenos Aires. 
Jewish leaders informed the Israeli authorities 
in no uncertain terms that this must never happen 
again because a repetition would permanently 
rupture relations with the Germans of Latin 
America, as well as with the Bormann 
organization, and cut off the flow of Jewish 
money to Israel. It never happened again, and the 
pursuit of Bormann quieted down at the request of 
these Jewish leaders. He is residing in an 
Argentinian safe haven, protected by the most 
efficient German infrastructure in history as 
well as by all those whose prosperity depends on his well-being.'


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